Obama urged not to neglect climate
DAVOS, Switzerland - Don't put off action on global warming just because times are lean. That's the message Al Gore, world environmental leaders, and American executives are sending to President Obama.
Worries are mounting that economic troubles are sapping momentum, in the US Congress and in other world capitals, for costly investment in clean energy and cutting carbon emissions.
"The oceans are being choked off of oxygen. They are dying as a result of this process we are seeing before our eyes the melting of the polar ice cap," Gore said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "The assumption that we can continue on this path is an assumption that is collapsing."
Many countries are looking to Obama for aggressive action after frustration at the Bush administration's refusal to sign international pacts on reducing emissions of carbon, blamed for global warming.
Gore, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer, and executives met this weekend to discuss the fate of a UN meeting in Copenhagen next December aiming for a global agreement on reducing emissions.
Questions remain over the new US governments position on the Copenhagen meeting, which is seen as crucial.
Gore expressed optimism in Obama, noting that he made environmental funding a big part of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill passed by the House last week.
But he and other panelists acknowledged that the financial crisis will be a key challenge. Governments could shy from forcing polluting industries to pay for their carbon emissions or using taxpayer money for expensive new clean energy investments, even if they prove more efficient in the long term.